During its pre-E3 Nintendo Direct webcast and E3 2012 Press Conference, Nintendo unveiled the online future for the Wii U console. While many features of the Nintendo Network were revealed, such as the in-house social network Miiverse, Nintendo remained silent about what cost, if any, would be charged to users of the service.
Following the precedent set by fellow Japanese console manufacturer Sony, Nintendo recently announced during a shareholder’s meeting in Japan that online services for the Wii U will not require any subscription fees.
Speaking to investors during the meeting, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata highlighted the fact that, while he is not opposed to charging a subscription fee to allow the Wii U (and other devices) to access the Nintendo Network, he feels that based on the current user base of Nintendo’s gaming systems, free is the best approach. The idea is that allowing free access to the Nintendo Network and Miiverse will generate word of mouth which will lead to increased sales for the company.
Not charging for online access seems to be the best course for Nintendo to follow at this time. Online gaming for the Wii has been lackluster and cumbersome since the console’s launch, and gamers may be very reluctant to pay for an online service provided by Nintendo, considering the company’s track record.
Nintendo has stated that its forthcoming network is not meant to compete with or catch up to the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, but no matter –comparisons between the three services will be made. With Xbox Live providing solid online gaming, social experiences and access to non-gaming features for a fee, and Sony’s PlayStation Plus giving subscribers free games every month, Nintendo will need something that helps its service stand out from the competition. Free access to the Nintendo Network is a very good starting point, and hopefully Nintendo’s willingness to rely on word of mouth to help spread the news about its online services will lead to bigger and better things.
Ranters, will Nintendo’s free approach to online connectivity help to increase the company’s presence in online gaming?
The Nintendo Network will launch this Fall.